'Early days' for skilful Lions

Sun, 28 Jan 2018 16:09

REACTION: Lions coach Swys de Bruin will show his hand on Monday, when he names his squad for the Super Rugby season.

While De Bruin was voracious in his excitement about the depth at the union, he cautioned against reading too much into the 66-22 pre-season victory over the Bulls at Ellis Park at the weekend.

Some of the youngsters who starred in the demolition of one of two Bulls teams that played at the weekend - the other lost 14-31 to the Sharks in Polokwane - may be disappointed when the Super Rugby squad is announced on Monday.

De Bruin, who is heading into his first Super Rugby season as head coach of the Lions, said the real build-up to their opening match of the season (against the Sharks in Johannesburg on February 17) will start this coming week.

"All the Japan and Europe guys [players who were abroad in the off-season] are returning this [coming] week," De Bruin said.

"It's a case of welcoming them back and then onto the work.

"Monday morning I want to tell the guys who are not in the [Super Rugby] squad - who are going up to the Challenge Cup [domestic competition] side - tell them early and then announce the side," De Bruin added.

De Bruin did not hide his enthusiasm over the depth in the broader squad.

"It was just a case of [testing the] depth and as far as that's concerned, I think the depth in the union is looking good - especially the youngsters," the coach said.

"The form for this time of the year was surprisingly good, the skill level.

"I was impressed with the skill level and they played right to the end.

"The fitness level was amazingly good."

However, he cautioned against reading too much into the final result.

"We have a lot of work to do in terms of retaining possession," he said.

"We looked good [at times] and then faded away.

"The future is looking good, but it is vital that we don't get ahead of ourselves."

By Josh Isaacson

* Picture courtesy of DeonvanderMerwe.co.za

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